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Early close snaps Metro-suburban link

Last Metro to reach New Garia station: 10.35pm

Last EMU train from New Garia Halt: 9.29pm

South 24-Parganas-bound commuters taking the Metro till Kavi Subhash (New Garia) station are facing difficulties because of Eastern Railway’s decision to suspend operations at New Garia Halt more than an hour before the last Metro arrives.

The New Garia Halt was opened recently to make life a little easier for people getting off at Kavi Subhash Metro station on their way to interiors of South 24-Parganas, such Baruipur, Canning, Diamond Harbour and Lakshmikantapur.

Such commuters have to walk to the halt, less than 100 metres from the Metro station, through a subway and hop on their respective suburban trains from Sealdah (South).

There is, however, a problem. The last train from Sealdah (South) stops at New Garia Halt at 9.29pm. The last Metro train reaches Kavi Subhash at 10.35pm.

The railway authorities pull down the subway shutters and close the ticket counters after the last train leaves, forcing hundreds of Metro commuters who get down at the terminal station to either hire a rickshaw or walk till Garia station, 1.8km away.

Commuters unaware of this system are in a fix, more so because there are few travel options so late in the night. Some are forced to take a Metro train back to the penultimate station, Shahid Khudiram (Birji), from where the suburban Garia station is closer.

Trains that go via New Garia Halt take a short detour between Baghajatin and Garia stations. After New Garia, they return to the original line to travel further south via Garia.

“I did not know that the link closes down even when the Metro service is still running,” said Baruipur resident Sanchita Mohanty. “I got off a train at Kavi Subhash at 10.05pm last Thursday and found the subway leading to the halt station closed. There was no other transport option outside the Metro station. Finally, a friend picked me up from the station after 20 minutes and dropped me at Garia station, from where I took a train home.”

A senior official of Eastern Railway said the decision to suspend services at the halt station at 9.29pm was taken because “there aren’t enough passengers from the station after 9.30pm”.

Flooded with complaints, Metro officials have requested Eastern Railway to extend the service timing at the halt.

“We have written to senior officials to keep the halt open till the Metro services are on. We haven’t received any response yet,” said Protyush Ghosh, deputy general manager (general), Metro Railway.

Railway officials said they had no immediate plan to extend the timing.